AFC West Breakdown: Week 14


Brett Favre, Brett Favre, Brett Favre. Streak, streak, streak. What??? I thought that’s what we’re supposed to say this week. Anyway, the life and times in the Wild Wild West are never boring. One health issue, one coaching change, and one big play can really knock a team back on its rear. That’s just what happened to the Chiefs, Broncos, and Raiders, respectively. Meanwhile, the Chargers continue to thrive late in the season, and they got an early Christmas gift with the other teams flopping. Here’s a look back at last week and what’s to come this week.   
    

Denver Broncos (3-10):

Looking Back: Leave it up to the Broncos to put another 3-9 team’s kicker up on a pedestal. Jay Feely made five field goals, ran in for a touchdown on a fake field goal, and even made a tackle. Who says a kicker doesn’t do anything? The Broncos came up way short in a 43-13 loss. Knowshon Moreno was the top performer on the team with 19 carries for 81 yards and 1 touchdown while Kyle Orton wanted to bury his head in the desert sand. Tim Hightower was the latest back to feast on the Broncos’ run defense. He had 18 carries for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Broncos have lost eight of their last nine, and it’s going to take more than one major coaching change to fix their problems.               

Looking Forward: There’s no looking forward to facing Oakland again. The last time the Broncos saw the Raiders, they gave up 59 points at home in front of a favorable crowd. Now that they have to enter the black hole with a four game losing streak attached to them, the environment is going to be just plain hostile. Oakland is coming off of a two game losing streak and desperately needing a win this weekend to remain in the playoff hunt. Jason Campbell is their quarterback, but it’s been Darren McFadden all season long. The Broncos gave up 4 TDs to D-Mac and the guy is still on a roll.        

Kansas City Chiefs (8-5):

Looking Back: An unforeseen illness had Matt Cassel under the knife instead of on the field. Cassel had to sit out against the Chargers after having an appendectomy, and the side effects were sure transferred to the field. The Chiefs lost 31-0 with Brodie Croyle under center. He went 7-for-17  for 40 yards. Per the usual, Jamaal Charles led the team in rushing, but his 10 carry, 40-yard performance was way below his 90.5 per game average. At home they’re unstoppable, on the road they look as good as Al Davis does in lingerie.    

Looking Forward: On the bright side, they are at home in Missouri. However, they’re away from home in St. Louis. The Rams are enjoying quite a bit of success this season relative to years past, and at 6-7 in the NFC West, that’s good enough for first place. The state of Missouri was the laughing stock of pro football just last season. They Showed Me us something, didn’t they? Matt Cassel’s status is uncertain, but he was working out at the team’s facility on Monday. If they have him back, even if he isn’t 100%, that’s still a lot better than Croyle. The Rams strong suit is rush defense, but they’re no match for Charles and Thomas Jones.  

Oakland Raiders (6-7):

Looking Back: They’ve lost their last three of four, their most recent loss coming at the paws of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Darren McFadden tied the game at 31 with 1:53 left in the game, but it was the game’s other great running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, that got the last laugh. He ran in for a score from 30 yards out with 1:34 remaining to secure the Jags’ seven point victory. McFadden led the team with 16 carries for 123 yards, 2 rushing TDs, and 3 receptions for 86 yards and another score. Dude’s a beast. Jason Campbell proved that ditching JaMarcus Russell was the way to go to say the least. He went 21-for-30 for 324 yards and 2 TDs.         

Looking Forward: The Raiders return home after going .500 on two away games. The Broncos are a mess right now, but they’re not to be taken lightly. Often times, the hurt animal has the most fight in it. The Raiders strength on offense is obviously their rushing game, but their strength on defense lies in their passing game. Even if Kyle Orton does get back on track, the Raiders have Nnmadi Asomugha, Tyvon Branch, and Michael Huff in the secondary. All have had a solid season. The Raiders get their hands on a lot of balls in the way of pass deflections and forced fumbles. This is a game that the Raiders are looking forward to. They’ve got a lot of confidence built up after handedly beating the Broncos in October.         

San Diego Chargers (7-6):

Looking Back: A loss against Oakland two weeks ago didn’t deter the Chargers. They got back on track in Hollywood fashion by shutting out the Chiefs. Philip Rivers kept the offense flowing by going 18-for-24 for 226 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT. His main target was Malcom Floyd who had 4 receptions for 51 yards and 2 TDs. Mike Tolbert contributed 66 yards on 16 carries and 1 TD. Defensively, the team didn’t falter once. They sacked the Chiefs four times and didn’t let them convert on third down once. Those 8 punts gave punter Dustin Colquitt more camera time than Croyle.  

Looking Forward: The Chargers can easily sweep the rest of their season. Their remaining opponents have a 10-29 record combined. Up next is welcoming the San Francisco 49ers to the pad for a Thursday night game. The 49ers have won five of their last eight which is a major improvement since their 0-5 start. The Chargers can’t take this team lightly, but if they handle their business, there should be no surprises. This is a team on the rise and looking to knock the Chiefs off their throne.     

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Tags: Afc West Denver Broncos Kansas City Chiefs Oakland Raiders San Diego Chargers